An open carry advocate in Texas said he would bring his "rifle and hand out literature at SXSW Friday. I just found out Obama is going to SXSW Friday. This may get interesting," according to messages on a private Facebook page obtained by BuzzFeed News.
CJ Grisham is the founder of Open Carry Texas. He posted the message on the group's private Facebook page.
One commenter, Kriss Elliott, replied to the message, "if you get a clear shot, please fire for effect!"
Grisham told BuzzFeed News this is the third year he and gun rights supporters attend SXSW, and he suspected the comment made by Elliott might have been placed by someone trying to draw negative attention to the group.
"I'm not a conspiratorial guy, all I'm saying is no one knows who this guy was, and the post was deleted five minutes after it had been posted," he told BuzzFeed News. "There are a lot of people that are in there under false pretenses trying to catch us with something."
The founder of Open Carry Texas, who often carries an AR-15 rifle and a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun during open carry protests, said that by writing, "This may get interesting," he meant logistically because several streets are shut down during presidential visits.
"It's going to be interesting logistically because I'm open carrying," Grisham said. "Are they going to drive by me and freak out?"
The screenshots were provided by Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun control measures.
A Secret Service spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement that it they are conducting a follow up.
The Secret Service has the authority to preclude firearms from places, including those located in open carry states.
"Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint, regardless of whether they possess a ticket to the event," according to the Secret Service statement.
Grisham noted there are more than 28,000 members in the private Facebook group, and he did not know the commenters. The comments like the one that was written in reply to his post are against the rules.
"None of that flies in our chat rooms and we don't allow it," he said. "And the fact that nobody seems to know who this individual is raises red flags for me."
Open Carry Texas is "dedicated to the safe and legal carry of firearms openly in the state of Texas," according to its website. The purpose of the organization is to educate Texans about their rights and encourage elected officials to pass less restrictive open carry legislation, according to its website.
Open carry became legal in Texas in January of this year.
Grisham told BuzzFeed News he and members of the group still plan to be outside the Austin Convention Center Friday to engage with younger people.
"I'm not going to let some manufactured controversy stop me from exercising my right," he said.
He said he had not been contacted by local law enforcement or by the Secret Service as of Thursday evening, and he had no plans to reach out to them.
"If they come to talk to me, they need a warrant first," he said. "I don't answer questions from the government."
Tom Namako is the deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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